There will be a stage of this crisis that begins to get the majority of our community back to work. In the meantime, we want to help out in the community, stay hopeful and make ourselves aware of new developments every single day. Now is a time where we can take a step back and realise that Calgarians are in this together, and we have been showing it through kind messages to each other, through texts, videos, social media and the actions we can take.
Through the eyes of a business owner, what can you do to ensure the health and safety of your staff? Or unsure how to take action and get supplies into the hands of those who need it most? Read how one Calgary company, ProStar Cleaning and Restoration, is stepping up to the plate to support our community.
The local Calgary business was started in 2002 by founder Jodi Scarlett, who had just graduated from the University of Calgary in the MBA program and also received a Bachelors of Commerce. She is an active member of the Women Presidents Organization and Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. She holds 3 Master Restorer designations with The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Also being a certified instructor for the Alberta Insurance Council, continues to offer seminars relating to water damage restoration and mold remediation. A truly inspiring entrepreneur that has a true passion for supporting the community. She has been an avid supporter of the knowledge and research done into countering the contamination of Covid-19 and has worked to ensure her staff are fully trained on the potential harm and the skills required to lower the risk of any contamination.
From humble beginnings, the story begins by painting the picture of a small cleaning company, rickety chairs, no filing system, a team of several maids and no computer in sight. It may not be the prettiest picture, however when Jodi bought the business back in the early 2000’s, providing the highest quality cleaning service has continued to be the heart of ProStar Cleaning and Restoration today.
Now in 2020, the business has built up their skills and capabilities to offer a wide range of cleaning and restoration services. Traditionally their focus is on services for their customers so they can recover from unexpected events. Whether that be fire, wind, water or sewage damage, household or commercial cleaning, construction cleanup and mold or biohazard abatement, they can handle it all. This speaks lengths into how they have listened to their customers needs over the past 18 years.
Their fight against Covid-19
How we can integrate back into the workplace and social gatherings with lowering the risk of a second uprise in contamination through peers? Now that we have found ourselves in a state of emergency with a global virus pandemic in our community, Jodi and her team at ProStar Cleaning and Restoration have found themselves going back to their roots, cleaning.
Jodi and select members of her team spent a lot of time researching the novel Covid-19 virus. From their efforts they have created FAQ’s that relate to concerns about how they are taking measures to address the challenges involved. Having their staff trained on cleaning various disasters that came before the wake of the virus, their team was skilled to address the conditions required to disinfect any areas at risk of already being contaminated. Jodi mentions:
“We gathered all the information and wrote safety practices, we trained the team within 24 hours…they were ready, it didn’t take us very long because we were uniquely poised for this kind of work”
Field staff were trained on bloodborne pathogens and in house “clean and apply” methods. They can service any single facility up to 100,000 square feet and includes the application of approved disinfectant chemicals by professionals on their field staff. Staff are taking the necessary precautions to ensure they can deliver a successful decontamination of social housing, homes and businesses across Calgary and surrounding areas. You can learn more about their FAQ’s on their Facebook page where they are avidly responding to any queries or comments.
The team at ProStar Cleaning and Restoration want to reiterate that with the conversations they are having regarding Covid-19 and their methodology, is that they will first screen the details of the risk involved. These efforts are more so focused on staying transparent to not sell a service to someone who simply does not need it. It is key to note whether there has been a high chance that someone or groups have been in contact with the area and whether there has been a history of testing positive for the virus.
How are the management lowering the risk for their employees in office and in field staff?
As mentioned previously, the staff have been trained on safety practices and the potential ways the virus can attach itself to surfaces. From their usual hazard assessment policy that traditionally would be applied to their customer requests, they put those same skills to work on their own facility. To address specifically the health and welfare of all staff under Jodi’s leadership, she has implemented a few different ways to ensure the highest level of precaution is taken.
“every job site we go to is hazardous. So we do a hazard assessment and determine how to mitigate those hazards. So this COVID-19 is a new environmental factor for us”
The majority of her office staff have integrated a work from home environment during this time, assisting with customers’ questions and supporting the field staff. Within their 15,000 square foot facility, only three in-house staff continue to work at their location to ensure there is replenishment of gear ready for field staff. It is a priority for their facility employees to have zoned areas allowing for ample social distancing practices, key to ensuring that there is little to no crossover day to day from staff not working from home.
They built a decontamination stations at all entries and exits at their facility to have staff coming in and out to decontaminate themselves through handwashing stations, regular temperature readings to ensure they stay on top of any risk that may come into effect as conditions change and segmented their field staff into smaller groups to address specific job site conditions; to which also include decontamination stations.
How has the communication been with your employees since the state of emergency was declared?
Jodi mentioned that she had arrived home from a personal trip just on the cusp of the declaration from the government, thus leading her to self isolate for 14 days and continues to work from home trusting the recommendations made by Alberta Health Services. The transition for the team has been greatly received moving to communicating using online conference calls and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Jodi has continued to create leadership videos and is a true believer in the use of humour to ensure there is a healthy work balance between her and her employees.
How is ProStar Cleaning and Restoration helping the community during this time?
Jodi and her team have taken upon themselves spending time trying to educate the public and calm those concerns. It is important to remember that there is continuous research going into the ‘shelf life’ of the virus and ProStar Cleaning and Restoration will continue to inform the community through social media channels to ensure the most relevant information is reaching those concerned. ProStar’s team implemented a sustainable PPE(Personal Protective Equipment) initiative early on during this pandemic and are cognisant to not interrupt the supply chain channels for health care. They have adapted with the equipment they own to ensure they can reuse everything they possibly can, thus allowing essential PPE to be received by front line workers who need it most.
One initiative ProStar is happy to support is ConquerCovid19. It has gained a lot of attention for supporting our healthcare workers and women’s shelters at a time where there is a shortage of medical and personal supplies they deeply need replenishment of. This gained a major push from Olympian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser and support from well known actor Ryan Reynolds. It has received support from companies across Canada such as Canadian Tire and Toys ‘R’ Us, ProStar is one of the Calgary companies that have offered to lend a hand.
ProStar’s involvement will be boots on the ground and the use of their facility in Calgary where they will be hosting one of the first PPE supply drives at their location, details can be seen below. We commend ProStar for their support offered to the team at ConquerCovid19. Please visit their Facebook page to learn more about their work with ConquerCovid19 and how you can offer your own support for their PPE supply drive Saturday April 18th.
The team are happy to respond to questions through their contact information available on their website and through all their social media platforms. Working directly with the social housing sector on some large cleaning projects, providing maintenance services to ensure those who need these services have a safe and clean environment, with the additional support of assisted self isolation rooms. Working to support vulnerable individuals, they are proactively implementing preventative cleanings across their service areas. They also have been working with housing and apartment rentals such as Airbnb’s to have turnover cleaning to ensure the owners can safely offer a clean environment to stay. Jodi and her team are eager to witness the transition of our community back into their workplace and some normality for the future, and of course, are there for support.
If you have any questions and would like to learn more about ProStar Cleaning and Restoration and their work in the community, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary
Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed
Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.
West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.
The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.
In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.
Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.
The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.
Federal departments failed to spend $38B on promised programs, services last year
By Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa
The federal government failed to spend tens of billions of dollars in the last fiscal year on promised programs and services, including new military equipment, affordable housing and support for veterans.
Federal departments are blaming a variety of factors for letting a record total of $38 billion in funding lapse in 2021-22, including delays and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also say much of the money remains available for future years.
The unspent funds also played a big part in the Liberal government posting a smaller-than-expected deficit in the year ending March 31, 2022.
Canada rang up a $90.2 billion deficit — $23.6 billion less than had been projected in the budget.
The unprecedented amount of lapsed funding, much of which has been returned to the federal treasury, has one observer suggesting it is a sign of long-standing challenges delivering on big federal projects for the country.
The amount of lapsed funds across government is spelled out in the most recent iteration of the public accounts, a report on federal revenues and spending by every department and agency tabled in the House of Commons every year.
The $38.2 billion that was reported as lapsed in the last fiscal year marks a new record over the previous year, which was $32.2 billion. That was a dramatic increase over the previous record of $14 billion in 2019-20.
That compares to around $10 billion about a decade ago, when Stephen Harper’s Conservative government was accused by political opponents and experts alike of using large lapses to make cuts by stealth.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada reported the largest lapses of all departments and agencies, with nearly $11.2 billion of their combined $28.2 billion budgets going unspent.
Much of that had been set aside for COVID-19 initiatives that were not needed, said Health Canada spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau. Those include vaccines, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.
“Both Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have rigorous internal financial management controls designed to prevent, detect and minimize errors and financial losses, and ensure the funding is spent in the best interests of Canadians,” she wrote in an email.
The pandemic figured in the responses and explanations from many other departments and agencies, with many blaming COVID-19 for delays.
One of them was the Defence Department, which reported a lapse of $2.5 billion in the last fiscal year. Much of the money wasn’t spent due to delays in the delivery of new military equipment such as Arctic patrol vessels and upgrades to the Army’s armoured vehicles.
There were also delays on major infrastructure projects for the military, according to Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande. Those include upgrading and rebuilding two jetties for the Navy in Esquimalt, B.C., and a new armoury in New Brunswick.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many of our business lines,” Lamirande said.
“The impacts of the pandemic on supply chain and industry capacity are causing manufacturing backlogs and delays.”
Lamirande added most of the unspent funds are expected to be available in future years through a process called reprofiling, in which schedules are revised to reflect planned spending in future years due to those delays.
Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said the government’s handling of lapsed funding now is “a little more relaxed” than in previous years, when unspent funds were not reprofiled and even used to justify budget cuts in Ottawa.
But defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said the Defence Department’s lapse, which has been steadily growing in recent years, is a symptom of Ottawa’s continued difficulties purchasing new military equipment.
“If we’re not getting those procurement projects through, we’re not getting new equipment into the inventory, so we don’t actually have the gear for our troops,” he said, noting many of the delayed projects were launched under the Harper government.
Perry also noted the current rate of inflation, which is already naturally higher for military equipment and the defence sector than most other parts of the economy. Not spending money now means Canada will have to pay more for the same gear and services later, he said.
The Infrastructure Department, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the Fisheries Department, which includes the Canadian Coast Guard, also reported delays with different capital projects, including on affordable housing and broadband internet.
“Due to the unprecedented circumstances over the last few years such as the COVID-19 pandemic, disbursing funds to proponents for many projects are expected to and will take longer,” CMHC spokeswoman Claudie Chabot said in an email.
Perry suggested a bigger problem.
“The government of Canada’s ability to actually deliver services to the public, especially when it comes to large projects, large capital projects, be it for equipment or infrastructure or IT projects, is struggling across the board,” he said.
Other federal entities with large lapses included Indigenous Services Canada, which failed to spend $3.4 billion, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, which reported a lapse of $2.2 billion.
Spokesman Vincent Gauthier attributed much of the latter lapse to “the timing and progress of negotiations for specific claims and childhood litigations,” adding that funds will available “in some instances” in future years.
Gauthier did not say why Indigenous Services, which is responsible for delivering federal services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, failed to spend billions of dollars. He did say most of the money had been reprofiled “so that it will be available when recipients need it.”
Veterans Affairs Canada also reported a nearly $1 billion lapse last year, which the department blamed on fewer ill and injured ex-soldiers applying for assistance than expected.
However, critics have described earlier lapsed funding as evidence of the challenges many veterans face in accessing benefits and services. In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion demanded the Harper government explain why $1.1 billion went unspent over seven years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.
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